Yesterday, in the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Finance Committee Chair Warren Limmer (R-34, Maple Grove) allotted a half hour per side for the proponents and the opponents to voice their respective positions on the legalization of recreational Marijuana. This occurred after a 30-minute presentation by Dale Quigley-Deputy Coordinator of the National Marijuana Initiative for the High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program in the United States. Most of the information Quigley presented provided negative consequences to public health and drug use by minors.
After all was said and done, every supportive measure advanced by the DFL through Sen Ron Latz (DFL-46, St Louis Park) failed on a party-line vote of 6 Republicans to 3 DFLers, including measures to advance the bill without recommendation, table the bill, a call for a task force to study the issue further, and final passage. During the proceedings, Latz inquired if it was Limmer’s intent to kill the legislation in his committee.
This means this issue is effectively dead for 2019 unless it becomes a portion of global negotiations at the end of the session. The Republican message during the debate was clear, they support Medical Marijuana, but not the ability for people to consume it at their leisure. The principal point raised by the opponents stemmed from opposition to Driving Under the Influence and the increases expected to follow legalizations. During the debate, there was a constant reflection of measurement of Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) to which is totally unrelated. Vice Chair Dan Hall (R-56, Burnsville) tried to learn what the point of impairment was for Marijuana in a person and the information never became quite clear. Medical Marijuana providers recommend their clients do not drive until four hours after usage.
Those voting in opposition Sens Limmer, Hall, Bruce Anderson (R-29, Buffalo), Bill Ingebrigsten (R-08, Alexandria), Mark Johnson (R-01, East Grand Forks) and Jerry Relph (R-14, St Cloud). Many of the Republicans are older white men who have a viewpoint shaped by experiences in the 1960s.
It seems reasonable for there to be some type of science to be used to make determinations on the impact of marijuana for both the medicinal side and also the recreation side. Since both sides involve users. The task force concept has merit and we believe the need for a comprehensive study should also occur. In October, Colorado released a report on a five-year study and since Minnesota is closely in line with the Rocky Mountain state in population it might prove to be a worthy measure. http://cdpsdocs.state.co.us/ors/docs/reports/2018-SB13-283_Rpt.pdf